RCUSA urges the international community to stand with Ukrainians at risk of displacement and those already displaced

Washington, DC –  Refugee Council USA is horrified by Russia’s military invasion of Ukraine. This assault marks a massive escalation of the protracted conflict set off by Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea, and could lead to Europe’s largest humanitarian and displacement crisis since World War II.

Eight years of conflict have already resulted in thousands of deaths and the internal displacement of 1.5 million Ukrainians. The escalating conflict is leading to more death and destruction. It will likely force many more families and individuals to flee their homes, potentially leading to a wave of up to five million refugees from Ukraine into neighboring European countries.

“Watching the Russian invasion of Ukraine unfold before my eyes and hearing the sirens sound in Kyiv brings back many unwanted memories of the 2003 war on Iraq and what I heard and saw as I was living in Baghdad,” said Taif Jany, RCUSA’s Director of Policy and Practice. “I know far too well the consequences of war and what could happen if the international community does not provide the necessary humanitarian response to those in need. That is why today we need world leaders to provide immediate and safe pathways to Ukrainian civilians seeking refuge and mobilize humanitarian aid to internally displaced persons in Ukraine.”

International protection is imperative. As the situation in Ukraine continues to evolve, RCUSA calls upon Ukraine’s neighbors, and all of Europe, to uphold the principles of non-refoulement by providing protection to those forced to flee and for those who were previously internally displaced or seeking asylum in Ukraine, consistent with international law.

We urge the US Department of State to support local Ukrainian and European organizations providing relief to Ukrainians, within their country and beyond, and we request that Congress appropriate the funds needed to support UNHCR’s emergency response efforts.

The United States should process pending refugee applications for Ukrainians and do everything in its power to secure their safety. We call upon the administration to secure mobility pathways for Ukrainians fleeing the conflict, especially as the situation escalates. And RCUSA joins a chorus of organizations urging the administration to provide a safe haven for Ukrainian nationals in the United States by designating Ukraine for either Temporary Protected Status (TPS) or Deferred Enforced Departure (DED), as well as Special Student Relief (SSR).

“The longer Russia continues this attack on Ukraine, the more we will witness a cascade of humanitarian crises,” said John Slocum, Interim Executive Director of RCUSA. “And as the world watches developments in Ukraine – and mobilizes resources in support of vulnerable Ukrainians – we must with equal determination continue to build accessible pathways for people around the world in need of humanitarian protection, regardless of race, ethnicity, religion, sexual or gender identity.”

Media contact: Sarah Seniuk, sseniuk@rcusa.org

RCUSA is a diverse coalition advocating for just and humane laws and policies, and the promotion of dialogue and communication among government, civil society, and those who need protection and welcome. Individual RCUSA members do not all address all refugee-related issues, nor do all individual members approach common refugee-related issues identically.